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Exploring non-violent male identities


In low-income, marginalized neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro, children are exposed to many forms of violence, at home and in their communities. In neighbourhoods rife with drug trafficking and criminal networks, many youth face pressure to join gangs and participate in a range of everyday violence. Despite overwhelming economic and social pressure, how do some boys and young men manage to resist violent pathways?

Over three years, research led by Promundo, a Brazil-based research and advocacy organization, explored the factors that help young urban males to avoid or curtail the use of violence, and how early exposure to urban violence shapes their gender attitudes and understanding of masculine roles. To examine these questions, Promundo adapted the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) to focus on gender and urban violence and the interactions between violence in the public and private spheres in Rio de Janeiro. IMAGES is a multi-country study on men’s practices and attitudes toward gender norms, gender equality policies, household dynamics, caregiving and involvement as fathers, intimate partner violence, sexual diversity, and health and economic stress.

Survey results confirmed several points of connection between early exposure to violence and the likelihood that young males would later engage in and experience various forms of violence. Qualitative interviews pointed to a range of factors that appear to steer young men towards nonviolence, including life events such as fatherhood, participating in domestic chores, educational achievement, and social support networks. 

Read the 2016 report “This Isn’t the Life for You”: Masculinities and Non-violence in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil" (PDF, 7.93MB, also available in Portuguese, PDF, 8.73MB).

Explore the IDRC-supported project Understanding non-violent male identities for safe and inclusive cities.

Learn more about IDRC’s research support to make cities safer through the Safe and Inclusive Cities partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development.